Artist Ella Mai

The Guardian - G2 - - Reviews Music - Natty Kasam­bala

Al­bum Ella Mai La­bel 10 Sum­mers/Interscope

The curse of the one-hit won­der is a hard one to shake, es­pe­cially for a new­comer with a plat­inum-cer­ti­fied in­ter­na­tional hit such as Boo’d Up. South Lon­don-born R&B singer Ella Mai broke through this year while tour­ing this love­struck an­them in the US – de­spite it be­ing re­leased al­most 12 months prior – and there is pres­sure for her to ce­ment her­self in the scene be­yond a sin­gle track. With A-list fea­tures (Chris Brown, John Leg­end and HER all ap­pear), Mai’s self-ti­tled de­but strives to pro­vide some much-needed con­text to the artist be­hind this mas­sive hit. And not­with­stand­ing a few lazy at­tempts to repli­cate the for­mula, for the most part it achieves that goal. The tri­umph of Mai’s first sin­gle lay in its abil­ity to cut through a scene full of trap beats and emo rap with a re­fresh­ing blend of nos­tal­gic ro­man­ti­cism, sim­plic­ity and an Ur­ban Dic­tio­nary-savvy hook. But oc­ca­sion­ally, Mai’s use of meme­able lyrics and an af­fected Amer­i­can ac­cent wear thin, re­veal­ing a slight dis­con­nect be­tween the pro­jected per­sona and the ac­tual artist – who speaks in a Bri­tish ac­cent on the spo­ken-word skits here. On Sauce, she brags of an at­ti­tude too con­fi­dent for men to han­dle, self­di­ag­nos­ing – un­con­vinc­ingly – a case of “too much sawce” over a de­cid­edly generic back­ing track. In­stead, it’s the full-bod­ied and fiery tunes Dan­ger­ous and Shot Clock that shine through, with their hon­eyed yet pas­sion­ate vo­cals, point­edly can­did lyrics, and throw­back in­stru­men­ta­tion mod­ernised with dark synths and per­cus­sion. These are bet­ter signs of Mai’s au­then­tic R&B star po­ten­tial than any mil­len­nial slang.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.